Are you one of the many, just like many I’ve seen in the clinic, who would describe a pain as ‘Chronic’?
If you are I assume your definition would be something like:
Chronic: A nagging pain, possibly ‘boring’, which never really let’s up. It’s annoying and not very ignorable.
But how SHOULD you be using ‘Chronic’? Let’s start with Chronic’s partner – Acute…
Acute Pain (Chronic’s Partner)!
(At least, in my head they go side by side).
I feel that many people would define ‘acute’ as:
Acute: An intense pain. One that you simply can not ignore. A bit like when you stub your toe or break your leg.
Would it surprise you to find out that neither is the ‘correct’ (or medical) use for those terms?
It seems to me that most people use ‘Acute’ or ‘Chronic’ as a description of the intensity of pain. Whereas, in fact, it is a description of time: how long something has been there for.
(Although, I have to admit that the pain descriptions often do coincide with the corresponding length of time the problem has been there for.)
So, What Does ‘Acute’ mean?
Acute simply means that a problem has been there for up to 4 weeks. So, the stubbed toe analogy still works here.
After 4 weeks it becomes “Sub-Acute”. And I’m sure the discomfort of that broken leg would extend into a subacute timeframe.
And What Does ‘Chronic’ mean?
Chronic means something has been there for over 3 months. (So, to come extent we are living with a Chronic message of “Stay at
Home” from the government, due to Corona).
An example of something being chronic could be hip pain resulting from wear and tear. Something that’s gradually getting worse.
Unfortunately, that takes away many people’s description of their pain. So, if you need some help with that, how about descriptions such as: sharp, shooting, tearing, pulling, nagging, burning or achy.
Just to fill up that description reservoir, in case you need to see the likes of me. ?
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